• Love your coffee and the environment, with a new initiative to take takeaway cups out of landfill and put them into compost. (Instagram)
Yelo cafe is just one of the forward-thinking cafes across Australia that are composting their coffee cups and takeaway packaging along with food scraps to reduce landfill.
By
Lucy Rennick

23 Oct 2018 - 1:36 PM  UPDATED 23 Oct 2018 - 1:27 PM

Australians churn through about 1 billion (yes, a billion) disposable coffee cups each year, and while the cups themselves are usually paper and recyclable, they tend to slip through the cracks and end up in landfill. That’s a helluva load of cups and lids – just sitting there, not breaking down for a million years (okay, it’s more like 50 years, but still).

While many of us are using reusable coffee cups and not-so-silently fuming about these stats, the world’s most remote capital city is leading the charge in enacting a practical a d community-minded solution to the problem. 

Australians churn through about 1 billion (yes, a billion) disposable coffee cups each year, and while the cups themselves are usually paper and recyclable, they tend to slip through the cracks and end up in landfill.

Forward-thinking hospitality workers at cafes in Perth, WA, are encouraging customers to compost, rather than chuck, their disposable coffee cups as part of Australia’s first national composting service for foodservice packaging. The initiative comes from BioPak, an Australian sustainable packaging company prioritising eco-friendly and workable solutions for individuals and businesses.   

BioPak has provided participating businesses with specially designed collection bins that are hungry for your single-use coffee cups and compostable takeaway-food packaging. The bins are emptied weekly, and the contents are sent to commercial composting facilities for processing. Eight weeks later, something magical happens – what was once a forsaken coffee cup headed straight for landfill, ends up as nutritious soil compost for gardens and farms.

The program launched in December 2017 in Sydney, and has grown steadily since then. “We’ve got a composting partner in every state, and we’ve got about 100 bins in cafes and businesses across the country,” BioPak founder Richard Fine tells SBS.

Biodegradable packaging means more compost, and, ultimately, less waste ending up in landfill.

“In Australia, we send more than eight million tonnes of organic waste to landfill every year, including 1.5 million tonnes of food waste,” says Fine. “The problem with this is that when food waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, which is a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, resulting in enormous damage to our environment.” Anyone who reads the news will know that we need to reduce the presence of those gasses, now more than ever.

Biodegradable packaging means more compost, and, ultimately, less waste ending up in landfill.

Sydney was the first city to make use of the service but, according to Fine, Perth is the strongest adopter to date. Perth cafe Yelo was the first to sign up for the service in June, opting to place bins in all three of the cafe’s locations – Trigg, Mount Hawthorn and Subiaco. In just three months, Yelo successfully diverted 33,095 kilos of waste from landfill, and created 23 tonnes of compost. 

“This is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will help divert potentially tonnes of waste away from landfills and turn it into composting that can be used for commercial-level agriculture – at no cost to our customers,” Yelo owner Mike Pond says. “The reaction from our customers has been fantastic so far.” 

According to pond, it’s actually saving the cafe money. “The composting service will save us more than 20 per cent a year in waste bills.”

Keep your eyes peeled for the BioPak composting bins the next time you forget your KeepCup, and stay up to date with BioPak’s plans for saving the world on Instagram

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